Tag Archives: parabola

Dreams

What does it mean to dream? Who are we when we dream? Is dreamscape the reality, or is wakescape the reality? What is the power of the dream? How do we connect?

 

Moon Shine

The night is beginning. The date is July 4, 1998. I am at an Independence Day celebration on base at Fort Leonardwood, MO. My cycle of Basic Combat Training is taking a short break in observance of our national holiday. It is about the time when the day and the night get mixed up in dream-like ways. Day oceans of bright blue swirl with night oceans of deep plum. The moon has risen enough to be seen over the trees, the stars are waking and twinkling, and the sun is going down to bed. I sit on metal bleachers, absorbing the moods and emotions in the cool summer air filled with corn dogs, flashing roller-coaster lights, cotton candy, rock music, screaming girls, laughing children, bargaining parents, and the scent of silent remorse on pine.

I sit on metal bleachers, in silent remorse, missing a girl I want to spend the rest of my life with. Letters take days. The telephone is a miss at best. I miss her, now. I want her, now. I am cold at my side where she would normally sit, holding my big arm like a personal heater on cool nights, her head on my shoulder. It may be a decade later, but I still feel the same sense of wanting and sorrow that young boy felt for that girl. He loved her wholly and lustfully, perhaps the best a teen boy can do. In the end, it was not enough.

In that moment I spent looking up at the moon, she was looking at the moon, too. I felt that connection instantly. I knew she was looking because there, in the round of the moon, was her smiling face. There was laughter, there was her hand on mine, there was the scent of her perfume, and the perfume of her lustful young body. In that moment, I was not just connected with her, I was physically with her. I remember that lonely boy’s eyes tearing in lonely love for her, wishing he was not so god-forsaken far away.

Was it a dream I had while gazing into the hollows of the moon? Was it a dream that I was out that night? Was it a dream that I was even in the Army? Or, was it a dream that the young boy and young girl were ever in love?

I still look up at the moon. And, although the young girl’s face is no longer there, that young boy always comes back, climbs up onto those metal bleachers, and reaches out for the moon, longing for a connection with love.

To Another World
The window to the playground is a windscreen to a galactic spaceship on expedition to the Nolana System. Outside, enemy fighters dart back and forth in the front of the spaceship’s commander – he must keep his course! Some of them are black, others are brown, and a few are brightly colored in reds, yellows, and even blues. The colors are a mystery, but they must serve some purpose. Uh oh, the B.I.R.D.S. are dive bombing the patrol teams! Called Doggs, the patrol teams operate via a tether.

“Choo,” one missile away. “Choo. Choo,” two more missiles away. “Switch to guns!” Maverick yells over the radio. The machine guns fire as fast as they can. “Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch!”

Suddenly, the windscreen is blocked and all visibility is lost. The pilot scrambles to see. He squirms back and forth in his desk to regain visibility, but the teacher blocks all.

“To the principles office, young man.”

The young boy sulks and walks out into the hallway mumbling.

Suddenly, the engines fire and the pilot is back in to evasive maneuvers!

Plan A
I once dreamed of being nothing more and nothing less than a combat soldier. Whether Special Forces, infantry, or a tanker… it did not matter. I just wanted to kick down doors, bust some heads, and blow shit up. If that failed, Plan B was to become a successful businessman. Forget about fame, I just wanted to be rich and own the town. Both failed. Everything had to be rethought. Plan C had to be discovered, conceived, and born.

Wheat Fields
Plato once said, “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.”

How my bitter lips turn and drip with honey at the utterance of your name. Sweet like candy on my eye, the animal of myself imprisons your portrait in my mind. With a love like angels for their brothers and sisters, I wish to set you free into my arms.

Desire can take a mind of its own when it becomes full and engorged. My passion is lustful to embrace you, touch you, discover your mysteries, and gaze onto your waking face in the morning bright. Who will rise with more radiance? The new-day sun, or the girl of yester night? Let me kiss the winner.

Like the wheat in the field, when our days turn gold and our hair turns silver, what harvest shall our memories smile upon? I want to smile upon the wheat of the wheat of our field.

If I come call and woo the woman of my love, will it be you who comes to see me?

The Dash
Sick and tired of being sick and tired of this freaking rat race we call work and life and the whole fat bitch smothering me away, I accept an offer that will change my life. Anyway, I hope and want it to change my life. Have you ever bet all-in for the opportunity to get back out the rabbit hole you have fallen down? I did.

Wow, I thought, can this really be happening? Two people really believe I am capable of achieving a goal as opening my own brick-and-mortar office. For reasons not entirely known to me, I have always desired (and almost need) to be socially recognized for my prosperous achievements, to feel constituted in the community. And, yet, I do not feel constituted in the community and I rarely receive any kind of positive recognition, at least not enough to fill a need that has developed. So, with the potential of an opportunity to step out of this rat race and set my self up for a great retirement, I jumped on it full-tilt.

For the week it took for my application to be reviewed, I daydreamed how my life would change over the next five to ten years. I would continue to live in the cheapest place I could find, here, in my current town while I continue to work my full-time job. Essentially, nothing would change, and the extra earned money would be banked or reinvested to increase my sales. Once the income to my full-time job would be equaled or surpassed for eight consecutive months, I would then switch employers for my full-time income.

I imagined renting in the new town with my new office until I could afford to build the house I dream about with its impacted-earth walls, wrap-around covered porch, and the ten acres I require as personal space. Overtime, my second-hand items would get replaced with new items that I have been patiently waiting for. My life would become one of daily physical fitness, daily conversations and play time with my son, daily success, and daily happiness and self-content. That is what I wanted, anyway.

It was the day dream.

And then, the dash. I got a phone call informing me that I am not a suitable candidate at this time.

The end.

The Dream of the Lion
The dream of the lion. House is filled with everyone I have ever cared about in my life. I see the lion outside and we all close and lock the windows and doors. I see the lion outside the front door. Next, it appears inside the house in front of the door. This “teleportation” into my domain (the house) tells me the lion is somehow a part of me. My heart races in response to the lion’s entry; I prepare for battle. Ready to charge the lion, he turns and walks down another hall. We walk parallel down our respective halls. I am scared for the people in the house. We walk faster. Faster. Faster. An object obstructs my view of the lion. I move back and forth in my hallway trying to find the lion in his hallway. The lion has disappeared. Suddenly, I am stricken with paralyzing fear and panic. I can feel my physical body reacting despite the fact I am asleep. The different people scream from all over the house as the lion attacks them omnipresently and simultaneously. Despite my fear and hesitation, I pursue the lion in all places at once. He is always escaping and outside my reach, yet still pursuing and killing my people. I end the dream to end the killings. I am yelling, “The lion is in the house!” I wake up yelling, “The lion is in the house!”

 

Missing Her
I had a serious crush on women like Nichelle Nichols who played Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek, Molly Ringwald who played Claire Standish from Breakfast Club, Jennifer Connelly (Natalie Becker) and Maddie Corman (Polly Franklin) from Seven Minutes in Heaven, Miriam Bialik who played Blossom on the television series Blossom, and of course the Fly Girls from In Living Color. However, in my eyes, all of these women were still mainstream, like mainstream America, no different than white America. There were no women I could relate to and felt totally attracted to because they did not understand the duality of my upbringing, the twin cultures of my house. It can be confusing at times. Not only because of the American and Korean cultures, but also because of the military and civilian cultures.

The 1990s were tumultuous in many ways, some good and some bad. But, besides puberty and my teenage years, junior high, high school, my own short military career, Civil Air Patrol, love, fun, and adventure, I met Selena, and fell in love with someone who understood a duality in upbringing, and twin cultures in the house. She understood suffering and the ascension through cultural, economic, social, familial, and personal barriers. And, all from the mixed-ethnic background. I bought her CDs and listened to them almost every day. I learned as much as I could about her. But, as usual, no one else had even heard about her. That did not matter, though, because she was the first other interracial with a mutual understanding. My best moment with Selena was when I spoke with her on the phone. It lasted seconds, really, or just a minute or two, but it seemed much longer. She said I sounded cute, and it made me blush. I could not say thank you because of my insecurity, but I could only chuckle anxiously.

When Selena was shot and killed, it was like my JFK assassination, my Elvis Presley, my Marilyn Monroe, or my Martin Luther King, Jr. I was in class at my high school when I seen the news on a program called Channel 1. I could not express my flooding emotions there at school, but I left at the end of the day and found a private place to let go. I cried. I was scared, I was lost, I was right back in the storm of turmoil.

Because I never felt fully accepted by my full-blooded counterparts, I never felt assimilated with my community, or any community except one – the military community. And then, I was introduced to a multicultural retreat hosted by a community college an hour away. My high school principle wanted to send me because he knew I was mixed. When I told him that he could send a white kid, too, to the multicultural event, and I emphasized “multicultural,” he became angry about my comment. He did not see things the same way as me. He saw it as an opportunity to do behavior correction on me, and I saw it as an opportunity for one sub-culture to gain exposure to another sub-culture. I was tired of the pressures, the prejudices, the antagonists, and the negativity directed at me by both teens and adults in my high school and community.

A young lady and my self was sent from my high school to attend the multicultural retreat. I think it was eye-opening for both of us. Where I was an outcast and she always sat with the other kids, the retreat was an absolute role reversal. We started with all the white kids segregated from everyone else. Although my colleague was mixed, just as I, she appeared Caucasian, and was sorted into the respective group. The group was then removed, and we, the “minority group,” was made the “majority group.” We were told of the correct procedures to follow during lunch, and instructed to correct anyone who did not follow procedure. If I were to tell you that the Caucasian group was not told of the correct procedures, can you surmise how lunch developed? We then shared our personal accounts of prejudices and harassment. This was the first time I was not told it was “all in my head,” and that something like that “could not possibly happen.”

That night, we partied at the motel. This was definitely not part of the program, but the adult chaperones were all gone. Later, we learned they went to a bar for their own party. Everyone partied together. In my experience, the Midwest harbors and perpetuates their own stereotypes. That night, all the walls were gone. It was amazing to be friends with dozens of people, practically overnight and of all ages and backgrounds. I was not the most popular, but I was accepted as one of the group. Nobody made fun of me, I danced with almost every girl, and shared drinks with all the guys. I felt I had finally arrived. I felt constituted in this community. I think it goes without saying, yet necessary to say, that we could not return to our respective circles with this same inhibitions. The real world outside our retreat did not operate on the same terms.

I have only felt such integration and value in a community as when I was at the multicultural retreat, in the Army, and, surprisingly, in college. Everywhere else, I just feel pushed to the outer boundaries of the group.

“Do we not all spend the greater part of our lives under the shadow of an event that has not yet come to pass?” — Maurice Maeterlinck

At the multicultural retreat, I also met someone. Although I was in a relationship with another woman at that time, I fell in love with a kindred spirit. After the retreat, I remember how we used to talk for hours almost every day after school. My parents were furious with me for all the long-distance calls billed to their phone, but it was more than worth the punishments.

She was beautiful like Zoe Saldana, equally fun and flirtatious as me, a straight-A student, a little quirky and nerdy, too, and shared a mutual attraction. She was on her way to Yale or Harvard, while I was on my way to the Army. We kept in touch through Basic Combat Training, but lost touch after that. My letters and phone calls to her house were not, of course, accepted. Unfortunately, with Susan, I am constantly left thinking, What if…

When it is time, it will happen, is all I can tell myself, but it is no consolation.

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Beauty

“It may be those who do most, dream most.” – Fortune Cookie

Beauty… so easy to imagine… so difficult to explain.

Is it often the images we conjure? Is beauty “only skin deep?” Is it “in the eye of the beholder?” Is it even real, or a fracture in our mind we call humanity – some kind of disability or handicap that has mutated [our self or the illness itself]?

When someone asks you to think of something beautiful, more often than not we tend to recall images that captured our ideal of beauty. If it is an ideal, why are there some similarities like the golden ratio or cross-cultural similarities? Can beauty also be the feelings and emotions dwelling in us? I think our music has the effect of bringing to the surface those feelings within. Is that not why we create music? Listen to music? Rock out? Jam out? Bob our heads, tap our feet? Sing on euphorial high?

We strive to be near beauty, to have beauty, to touch beauty, to be touched by beauty, to capture beauty… all of it is an effort to connect with our personal ideal of beauty.

Beauty. Is it only images and emotions? Can it be more, or something else? Can it be what we do?

Pass it forward. The year is 2000. My son is born, I am still adjusting to civilian life, and I learn of a concept shown to me with circles drawn on a notepad, connected in exponential fashion – network marketing. A few years later (I imagine, but the date is trivial), I watch a movie with circles drawn, also connected in exponential fashion – the “pass it forward” concept. Few experiences in real life have shown success with my experiments with the “pass it forward” concept. Most people succumb to the temptation and do not “pass it forward.” This time, I read an article, The Rickshaw Driver, in Parabola’s edition Beauty (Winter 2010 – 2011). Written by Nipun Mehta, it tells of a man who persists at giving his rickshaw driver all of his two-hundred-forty Rupees, where the driver typically makes between two-hundred and three-hundred Rupees. Of course the driver refuses, but the man stuffs his money in the driver’s shirt. The story does not go on to tell what the driver does with this act or what affects the man had with his persistence. I would like to know. I would like to know what affects I had the times I have done this times before. More recently, a man I got to know discouraged me from doing anything like that at all in my life, saying all people are short of perfection, and convenience is the vice of mankind. I agree with his vision, but I disagree with his reasoning. His reasoning is akin to the belief that once is failure is a possibility, one should just quit, now. Why try? What effect will I, or any action I take, have on this life, this world, my friend, my life? What affect will I have on the people I encounter? It is all circles: in debate, in speculation, in the lines drawn between people who randomly or intentionally meet in the middle. Circles.

Is beauty the day, the era of your life, the chapter whose page reveals the hero’s journey when you have finally arrived at that time and place that allows you to accept yourself as your self, and like it? Ten years of walking the path to be a different. At the end, he only found he was fine the way he began. But it is not the answer to the question that is most rewarding; it was not the end that gave him the answer. The path he walked is everything; the end was just an event, a moment, a lapse of time.

No matter how we define beauty, qualify it, quantify it, say it, see it… no matter how we know beauty, its real purpose is to bridge a gap, cross differences, connect the physical and known (explainable) with the metaphysical and unknown (unexplainable). It is a connection.

If a flower is beautiful, than is a slug beautiful? The vacuum of things behind the beautiful is often described as ugly. Why is a slug not beautiful? Why is the feces of an animal not beautiful? Does it not fertilize the ground and benefit insects? Without fertilized ground or insects, flowers could not grow or pollinate. Where is the border, the end of beauty? If we know what things are beautiful, then we know where beauty is, right? But, where at does that beauty end? When your beautiful significant-other is laying on the bed in immaculate nudity, where is the end point of the beauty you are looking at? Is it only the face? Only the hips or chest? Where the bed meets the skin? Where the foreground of the beauty outshines the background of the forgotten? Is it the moment, the time you have looking at him/her before the phone rings, the lights change, or some movement of the body begins the next Eros? Or, is there an end? Does the whole world become beautiful in the fraction of a second your brain and body respond to the electrochemical alchemy beneath your skin?

Beauty is the sands slipping between the fingers of your hand passing through the ocean waters at the shore of time, life, sex, and spirit, and all those things we love and hate about our self. It is the gravel grinding the glacier’s underbelly of our paradigm, idealism, perfection, dreams, aspirations. Strings of hope tethered fastly like spider’s web amongst the flowers in the bed in front of the house we keep and sleep our securities, deposits, savings, and valuable keepsakes we prefer to hide than advertise. Beauty is the smoke we catch in our hands, and then show to share a friend. We can still see it, but unless they have seen the smoke, they will ask. Beauty is the fleeting sunset, the everlasting memory, the rising sun or moon in the heaven of our wonderment.

Is beauty more beautiful when we no it is mortal and will wither? Or, when we know it is immortal and will never change to something less?

Beauty has its affects on us.

Your Hair Drapes, a poem by Artificer:

Your hair drapes over my shoulder like a waterfall as I hold you close, kissing.

The candles dance shadows on the walls behind us. Pleasing.

Soft bed sheets cuddle us throughout the night, teasing.

Rolling over, my weight on top of you compresses your breath, sighing.

Giving in to your temptations, you allow me. I give you sensuality.

Our music comes not from the radio, but the orchestra in our hearts, romantically.

No longer of two, now of one, we make love all night, slowly, intensely, passionately.

Meditation (Bhāvanā)

More commonly in Western culture, meditation is predominantly stereotyped as sitting quietly, motionless, and emptying the mind. The atmosphere of one’s meditative place is clean, uncluttered, quiet, solitary, and well lit with sunshine.

I ask, “Is this accurate?”

Like the Hindu god, Shiva, we Westerners know him as “the destroyer.” This is inaccurate with the true meaning as intended in Hindu, and lost in translation. Because English does not have a word that directly corresponds with Hindu’s distinctness in explanation of Shiva’s purpose, we find the next best thing to describe him. Unfortunately, we either forget or are not informed that the English meaning of Shiva is the next best thing, and mistakenly accept it as the original truth. Shiva, “the destroyer,” is known in Hindu not for destruction but for transmutation. In order to change, though, the old “dies” to “give birth” to the new, changing what we know [to be]. Shiva, “the transmutater.”

Loss in translation is inevitable. Therefore, how has the meaning of meditation, or bhāvanā as it is in Sanskrit, transmutated in its passing from Hindu into English?

We Westerners define meditation differently than our Eastern counterparts.

Krista Tippett interviews Thupten Jinpa, the Dalai Lama’s principle English interpreter, and in the transcripts Thupten Jinpa summarizes like this, “[bhāvanā] has the connotation of cultivation. It’s like cultivating a field. So there is this connotation of cultivation and the Tibetan term gom has the connotation of familiarity, a process of familiarity. So, uh, and meditation can be, you know, as His Holiness often points out, analytic where it’s not simply sitting down and quieting your mind, but it can actually be a process where you use kind of discernment and move from stages and stages to, in some sense, uncovering layers and layers to get to a point …” (Krista Tippett, Translating the Dalai Lama, being.publicradio.org)1.

Meditation. It is more than just emptying the mind and creating a clear, empty space. It is more than just sitting quietly. It is more than just focusing the mind.

Meditation. It is making one receptive and accepting to the energies of creation. Whether it be motionless or in motion, focusing all sub-parts of the mind, body, and our abstruse self, aka spirit, soul, transcendent. To delve inward for clarity, as well as delving deeper into the external for clarity. It is not listening for the one voice, but for the voices of one creation.

Amendment

Lately, I have been feeling/hearing the call to intently bhāvanā, once again – it has been more than a decade. I feel compelled to walk alone in the snow and ask myself what I find.

The Earth, the solar system, the Milky Way Galaxy, all of space, and all of consciousness opens. Its pedals unfold and fill with color as a butterfly’s wings. Expansion. The sepal opens, revealing the iridescent nectary and gentle viscera. The beauty is opulent. Cells in my physical realm swell with the spice and perfume of a diametric essence. The pedals curl, and turn back in towards itself as it continues opening. The tips are now turned upward and coming up through the center from the bottom. Magically, pedals continually open and recycle, and the iridescent nectary changes colors and character as each new flower emerges.

Space, time, matter, energy – all that is – exists within boundaries with rules beyond our comprehension. In my mind, existence is not within a sphere, such as the sphere of outer space (regardless of whether it is expanding or contracting), but within a torus. To exist in the torus means there is no center. Also, just as the flow of water scatters when hitting a wall, we can not approach the “edge” of existence because space and time bends at the boundaries. Beyond that edge is a place without space, without time, and without matter – the terra incognita. To exit our boundaries, we must use a mode of travel that frees the shortcomings of our substance, matter itself. But, like a semipermeable membrane, matter can never pass through the edge of the torus for the inheritance of its creation binds it within space. Time ages matter; to exist in a space without time means matter will not age. That single torus is not alone. It is with an unknown or even infinite number of other toruses. When combined, they appear as a sphere from the outside no matter the angle of view. Inside, however, the center is still void. Be it alternate dimensions, or what have you, the sphere is made of the torus. With the semipermeable membrane of the torus, how do we find our way to terra incognita? Through the use of the one part of our self that exists beyond time and space and matter – our consciousness. Like the torus in a bath, the omnipresent almighty permeates every bit, byte, and bel. This energy, existing within and beyond the torus of our limited existence, is what meditation (bhāvanā) aspires to employ.

I can feel a physical change in me. Prayer, meditation, or whatever you want to call it, when I do it I can feel a physical change in my body.

I am a spider, hunting through the towering blades of grass in a field. I stalk, I jump, I stealthily lower myself by my web. It appears that I never blink or look around, yet my eyes are always scanning. Some can move and refocus, but others are fixed and only give me rudimentary vision, such as a change in light or movement. I am hungry. My legs are swift and nimble. Powerful, I jump ten’s of lengths of my body. My prey might glimpse me from afar or when I am atop, but it will not be able to escape me once I adjudicate conviction. I am the master of all domains I prowl. Pound for pound, I am the greatest predator across the world not merely for my predatory prowess, but also for even I intimidate creatures immeasurably larger than me. There is no other predator greater than I.

I am a dragonfly. The design of my body is built around a single purpose – agile flight. My wings are life. I, too, am a hunter. Overtaking my prey with both speed and maneuverability is part of my design and purpose. I cruise the boundaries of water and land, land and air, and air and water. Where two worlds meet, you will find me. I am either colored for camouflage or colored to advertise.

I slowly rise above the floor where I am laying. As I look down, I see how the floor looks from the ceiling. As I look down, I see myself sleeping. Without a push from arm or leg I float forward, then down. I drift around so I can see myself. In the dark, on the floor, I see myself gently breathing, eyes closed, still. Woosh! I stand on it, bending the throttle, and take to the air like a banshee! High enough to clear houses, I fly through the night air faster than birds and more silent than the wind. I fly through trees without a disturbance. City streets channel beneath me like streaking lines of the highway. Street signs vanish, as do cars. Street lights seem like warp-speed runway lights. Soon, the city lights are gone and the starry sparkles above are the only lights visible. High in the sky, it is breathtaking to see the sky with more than one-hundred-eighty degrees of view from horizon to horizon. Closer to the sky, the stars seem brighter, too. Also, the physical sensation of floating in the air is remarkable – my stomach gets queasy sometimes, still. I love flying! I love zooming through things. The deja-vu feeling of visiting a place I have flown over is always beyond belief. Although I tell myself the places I fly to are real, I really just think they are fabrications of my imagination. That is, until I actually visit them. Some people have told me out of body experiences are very dangerous and [Christians say they] are the work of the Devil. Despite having had some fearful incidents, I do not necessarily believe out of body experiences are bad or evil. I think some people may be afraid of developing their spirituality and using some abilities because they are not willing to accept the responsibilities and risks involved.

Text messages between Artificer and a friend:

Artificer: “Im intrstd in ur thots boiln @ the point of transcendence.”

Friend: “i think i have always understood the true concept—just never taken the time 2 apply it!”

Artificer: “When it is time it will happen.”

Friend: “touche. touche.”

Artificer: “It is within you. It is small but not yet tiny. Delicate but not fragile. Silent cuz not yet heard. Seen but not known. Far to reach, near to be. Strange but no stranger.”

Friend: “so true. just have 2 get in there and get it.”

Artificer: “It is not 2b had. It is reconciling friends of the same womb.”

Footnotes
1 http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2010/translating-dalai-lama/transcript.shtml

Clothing

Why do we cover our bodies? Sometimes environment requires additional protection. Primarily, though, it is to hide from view the parts of the body considered indecent (as society dictates).

I see no indecency in the natural form of the body. Why, if we are born naked, are we to live clothed? When we die, do we transcend cloaked and adorned, as well? Or, is our natural self adornment enough? Will Christians wear clothes in heaven? I am no expert, but when Wakinu and Wakina created the world and discovered the eternal hunting grounds (heaven), as the Shoshone Native American’s traditional knowledge tells, they were not wearing clothes either.

The veil, beautiful and mysterious, obscures from view and reveals the vague. Whether opaque or semi-transparent, there is a mystical power – spiritually, cognitively, physically, historically –  about the veil. Our bodies are veiled.

Clothes are a costume, portraying a public persona with personal value for a stage built on a social function for the purpose of performing one’s part in the dramatic play. Clothing is an external manifestation of an internal persona. In America, many teens will dress outrageously as part of their expressions/experimentations. Halloween is one common “costume day.” Japan’s street fashion, especially Harajuku, takes it to a complete extreme. I remember someone once telling me that the youth of Japan think the world as their stage for them to express/characterize themselves in any way their imagination guides them.

From utility to vogue, from unifying to distinguishing, there is a purpose to our clothing.

There was a time when folks would mend and save their clothes when they became worn or damaged. These clothes would be passed to subsequent generations. (I really need to learn to sew, so I can mend my own clothes.) Nowadays, though, we simply replace old with new. I think how we manage our closets metaphorically represents how we manage our lives. Divorces come so quickly and easily these days. When we fall in love, we marry. When we become unhappy with one, we divorce to find another. Our relationships seem to be based on a line of credit that results in divorce when we default on the payments, and then we file for bankruptcy.

Everyone has a favorite article of clothing. If you do not, you are a truly rare exception. I first met this favorite shirt in 1999. It was a Werner Enterprises t-shirt in gray with the business name written across the chest in big blue caps. The logo was inconsequential to me, as was the color. However, it was a short-sleeve t-shirt with dimensions and material that made it indescribably comfortable to wear in any season and during any activity. A recent co-worker contrasted our differing body types as, “Your body (the author’s) is built for winter and mine (the co-worker’s) is built for summer.” In other words, he is lean and quick to freeze in winter, whereas I am thick and quick to overheat in summer. Despite this hot blood, the t-shirt had the pleasure of cherry cheesecake upon my skin. Tattered, worn thin, faded, and more holes than a window screen, it was finally laid to rest in 2008. Rest in peace, old friend. You are not forgotten.

Lingerie, a clothing often associated with sexuality, beautifies women in its myriad of forms nowadays. Oddly to us, though, the focus will flip to men, just as it has in the past. The celestial planet, Uranus, completes one orbit around the sun in 84 Earth years. Half of this time is spent with a human focus on the female beauty and sexuality, while the other half of Uranus’ orbit time is focused on the male beauty and sexuality. Why? I do not know, but I am very curious!

A nameless piece by Artificer:

To those who thread needles with thimbles on their thumbs and forefingers, too, share with me the lather of your thoughts on loathsome things and love and thanks and other views.

Shadow

How do we know shadows? Do we even bother to acknowledge shadows, except for when sweating under the sun? Do we know our own shadow? Do we see another part of our self in shadow? Is a shadow more than the absence of light cast by an object? Is it another vessel?

In the deep absence of space, light is vacuous, except for our remembrance of light’s decorum: how it warmed our faces, how it grew our plants, after-rain rainbows, sun dogs, and the luminous moon. With pin-lights millions and billions of generations away, distant suns with their invisible solar systems are the only mementos of light out here in black limbo. Here, amidst nothing, we are truly alone; far away enough to be out of earshot, out of eyesight, and out of the way. Alone in the light pales in comparison to the loneliness one feels in the dark.

Forces occur in pairs of equal magnitudes and opposite directions. To paraphrase Isaac Newton’s third law of physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction in another body.

Another body, I think with my other self, lost in backward imagination and anomalous curiosity of such a common and forgetful thing as a shadow. Aren’t we crazy?

My shadow is my counterbalance. Like a fulcrum, the souls of my feet meet where my body and shadow have grown upward for year after year, day after day. For all of my conscious, my unconscious also resides within me. For all my fears, insanities, and carnage, my peaceful side – my lightful side – also resides within me. Through our fulcrum, our umbilical cord, we maintain our link, both physical and metaphysical. Like a bottle on its side, the oil and water mixes and commingles with the agitation of turbulent waters. Never completely one, yet never completely apart. Symbiotic specters coexisting in the same place; matter and antimatter.

Shadow. It provides cool respite from the summer heat burning above. Yet, within its sanctuary, I see the world a little differently despite any real change in anything around me. The only difference: the shade.

I can sit alone in the light, be it inside or outside, and it is not the same as sitting alone in the dark. There is a “blanket” feeling in darkness, like it cloaks me. Perhaps you feel it in the light just as a female friend of my mine so does. She thinks it odd and paranormal – freaky and bizarre, really – that I prefer to sit in the dark than light. In the evening, after everyone has turned in and are either sleeping or watching late-night infomercials, I can be found outside, basking and enjoying the cloak of darkness that veils us each moonrise. Like a soft, warm, comforting baby’s blanket, I can be (in life) in darkness unlike in the light.

Fluorescent lights, incandescents, halogens, LEDs, high-pressure sodium-vapor lamps – we live in a world of light, casting out and exiling the age-old terrorist we have both feared and revered for all of mankind’s existence: darkness. Instead of finding ways to harmoniously exist in the night, we disrupt its serenity and sovereignty by harnessing an artificial recreation of day’s light: headlights, street lamps, flashlights, nightlights, tabletop lamps. It is all blasphemous in the aphotic sacellum, the co-sanctum to our illuminated temple. Within this artificially lit world, we can not see the stars anymore. No more are the speckled, sprinkled, sparkling beauties of the night, the darkness.

Shadow Friends, a poem by Artificer:

Out of place and out of rhyme,
I see the world through different eyes.
Dreams to live in days of old,
I was not born for the modern times.

Through colored pains of stained-glass work,
abusive memories in the shadows lurk.
Trust betrayed and hate-love wars,
my battles within have made me a jerk.

I don’t cry. I don’t call.
Alone, I quietly wander my own dark halls.
“Don’t ask. Don’t tell,” is how I live.
Deep inside, I am still a child – scared and small.

I slipped through life from young to old
without causing a ripple, but mine own.
Who will miss me, but my shadow friends?
But, you know, now, because you were told.

Too dark, too cold to invite you in.
Stay outside, but please be my friend.
With no one to play with, it is only me.
My loneliness seems to have no end.

Saviors had come a couple of times.
I thought they were, but they had lied.
Or, had I only deceived myself
to get out of my hell and cut my ties?

I beat up myself with each successive failure.
I am not a good student, so how can I be a good teacher?
I can not learn from my mistakes in past.
Consequently, my shadow friends are still my keepers.

They hold me close and keep me safe
from prying hands of help who want me to escape.
My solace is here where I know things to be.
Do I go, or do I stay? I am afraid of which path to take.

My journey is long because I travel in circles.
I am afraid to go too far because of painful hurdles.
It is easier to stay where I am, than to leave or become free.
But, I like to keep moving even if it is at pace with turtles.

Come to me, my shadow friends,
with your arms of comfort and ears you lend.
Keep away the joys of love,
and the pain I feel when, at me, their smiles they send.

Hate-love wars – love to hate.
Who is in control? What is my fate?
Let me hurry! Let me change!
For the loved ones in my life, forever they will not wait.